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Great Leadership Cultures Are Willing To Challenge “The King” and Great Leaders Want To Be Challenged

king1In all my years of leadership/followership and from my experience providing leadership consulting, I have come to realize that Great Leaders and Great Leadership Cultures are willing to Challenge ‘The King.”  I’m not talking about challenging King LeBron James to a game of 1 on 1. I’m referring to “The King” as the Big Boss, The CEO, The Department Chair, Team Leader, The Senior Pastor, The President… The Senior Leader that’s making the decisions, ‘The King.”

What generally happens in an organization is that “The King” develops a style, a system and a reputation for the types of decisions that he or she will make and the type of feedback that they are willing to receive. Over time, those that are closest to “The King” begin to accept those tendencies as the law. This inevitably leads challengeable actions, decisions and offenses going un-challenged. The excuses for not challenging “The King” range from,”that’s just how so and so is — you know they will not even entertain that thought.” This type of situation and culture is not good for “The King,” those that follow and the organization as a whole.

“The King” ends up leading from an isolated rarely challenged clueless bubble. A bubble that’s not going to bust because it’s not being poked, prodded and challenged. Those that follow “The King” will sit around and talk about what “The King” is or is not doing and the decisions “The King” is or is not making, which only leads to more problems for “The King” and the organization.

Great Leaders Challenge “The King” which not only makes them better leaders, it makes the King a better King. If an organization is being led by a King that is not willing to be challenged by those around him, the organization is being set up for failure. If leaders are not willing to challenge “The King” they will never be great leaders and are stifling their leadership potential. If an organization doesn’t foster a “culture of challenge” at all levels, it’s time to change the culture. Great Leaders Challenge “The King” and Great Kings create a culture where all things, decisions and people will be challenged… including themselves.

If an organizational culture allows for this absolute, imperious, or overbearing control to permeate through their organization, they are setting their organization up to become a dictatorship.

Great Leadership Cultures Awe Willing To Challenge “The King” and Great Leaders Want To Be Challenged

10 Reasons People Will Follow A Leader Anywhere

follow123We have all worked for various types of leaders with various types of leadership gifts; however every once and awhile we get to work for that leader whom we would follow anywhere. One of the ultimate compliments an employee can pay to their leader is “I would work for you or follow you anywhere!” This doesn’t mean that it’s all about that leader, it simply means that particular employee was bought into how that leader carried the organizational vision and how that leader impacted them personally.

I have personally made that statement to a leader that I have worked for and have been humbled by having individuals that I have worked alongside pay me that same compliment. I have a hypothesis on the reasons why someone would make such a bold statement.

10 Reasons People Will Follow A Leader Anywhere:

  • 1. They have a mind of their own, not a “Yes Man or Yes Woman.”
  • 2. They always maintain a high degree of integrity.
  • 3. They don’t have temper tantrums; yell, scream, cuss…
  • 4. They truly care about their employees personally, what’s happening in their lives outside of the organization.
  • 5. They are committed to developing and making every team member better.  They maximize the gifts of their employees, don’t micro-manage and free-up their employees to soar.  Under their tutelage employees are better leaders both personally and professionally.
  • 6. They always let their employees know where they stand, no surprises.
  • 7. They are willing to receive input and feedback from employees throughout the organizational chart.
  • 8. They balance confidence and humility.  Did I mention they are confident!
  • 9. They can remain appropriately calm under pressure, under fire, under the gun…
  • 10. They produce results and success; They’re Winners!  Although they are successful they understand that their commitment to this world is beyond their role, beyond their degree, beyond their success… Their mark will truly be identified as someone who genuinely cared about people and made positive impacts in the lives of people.

It’s great to have leaders whose leadership impacts you positively enough that you would utter this phrase “I Will Follow That Leader Anywhere!”

 

Warning – Your Leadership May Be In A Blind Spot

blind spotEveryone loves following a great leader; you love how they think, how they lead and more importantly how they make you feel. Although we all love following those great leaders, it’s important to understand that even the greatest of leaders have blind spots. These blind spots show up as a result of focussing on the “What” of leadership and overlooking the “How” and “Why.” Often times leaders and organizations make a habit of looking forward towards their goals, while rarely look in their rearview mirror or side mirrors to see whats coming, what’s happening around them, how people are feeling and what rough terrain is ahead. The entire organization will follow this same pattern of overlooking blind spots unless the leaders truly encourage otherwise.

By encouraging otherwise, I mean encouraging and embracing the challenging of the organization’s direction, decisions, culture, things that just aren’t quite right and pointing out the blind spots. More often than not leaders become comfortable as it relates to what they can challenge, what they can say, what’s sacred and what would be considered obvious blind spots become “things we don’t do, things our boss won’t allow or things that simply won’t change”

Leaders should encourage new hires to actively point out blind spots during their 1st 90 days of employment.Those fresh eyes and fresh perspectives are invaluable to an organization. Organizations should consider changing up the executive leadership team from time to time. This one is tricky, because there is tremendous value in having a consistent leadership team; however there is also tremendous value in someone new at the leadership table that is more willing to point out the blind spots, break what’s become normal, bring a fresh new outlook and challenge the status quo.

Another great way that organizations can begin to see their blind spots is by bringing in a reputable 3rd party consultant or strategist, whose only agenda is to be objective and help the organization reach their desired goals. Lastly, have a blind spot meeting – a meeting where you invite some of the brightest, most critical, outspoken, futuristic, company Kool-aid drinking and play it safe people all in the same room to do nothing more than point out blind spots. (This is fun)

When organizations make it a point to actively point out blind spots the organization will not only drive with the mindset of looking ahead, and periodically looking in the rearview mirror. The organization can tap into the use of the various side mirrors and overhead perspectives to help them see their blind spots. This is not a magic potion type of fix, it’s a process that takes time, focus and commitment to driving with greater leadership clarity.

Blind spots: Every organization has them, only few are willing to point them out.

7 Ways Leaders Destroy Their Teams

fail2Often times when it comes to “leadership” we hear the warm and fuzzies or the great success stories. There are so many great books and tools at the disposal of leaders that growth, competency and effective leadership should be inevitable. The challenge with that theory is it’s rendered “not always true” because of the simple fact that leadership deals with human beings and human beings are rather complex creatures. Anytime you are dealing with people things are never that simplistic.

Another reason being an effective leader is not that simple is that fact that book knowledge doesn’t always translate to street knowledge {{translation – just because you can read it and talk it, deosn’t mean that you can effectively apply it}}.

A key understanding to leadership how ineffective and incapable individuals find themselves in key leadership roles is this: people hire people, who hire people, who hire people. Somewhere within those three generations of hiring, there are people placed in roles of leadership that they are not capable of handling. In my tenure working as a Deputy Prison Warden, before being promoted to Warden, I worked for a leader that definitely should not have been in her role. She literally destroyed her staff and destroyed her team. Not only did she destroy them, she didn’t have the self-awareness to make the necessary adjustments. She was a “Leadership Destroyer.” In consulting over the last 14 years, I have seen and heard about these “Leadership Destroyers” more often than I’d like to admit.

Unfortunately the “Leadership Destroyers” are not isolated to my experiences, if you live long enough and work for enough people, there is a good chance that you will work for one of these destroyers. To help identify how these leaders managers destroy their teams, I have identified 5 ways.

7 Ways Leaders Destroy Their Teams

  • 1. My Way Or The Highway (MWOH): Everyone has an opinion and often times people have thoughts, ideas and suggestions that can be helpful to those that are in charge. MWOH is fueled by the insecurity of the Leadership Destroyer. MWOH can create an environment of control, but not an environment of healthy success. Listen to your team, involve your team, learn from your team and embrace the reality that the collective sum is much better than the Big-Headed MWOH Leader.
  • 2. All About The Numbers: The numbers do matter, the bottom line is important and if it doesn’t make dolla$ it doesn’t make sense.  In business, ministry or non-profit work, it’s important to measure things as it’s a great barometer for success. Where numbers become a problem is when the Leadership Destroyer focuses on the numbers, bottom line and measurables so much that they forget about their team of people who are making those numbers happen. They lose sight of the “how” because they are so focused on the “what.” Number matter, but people matter more. Focus on creating a healthy team and healthy numbers will be a natural bi-product.
  • 3. Talk But Don’t Listen: No one can get a word in or have an opinion because the Leadership Destroyer is always talking. Not only are they always talking, they never listen. If people are not heard, they will cease to say the things that matter. Shh (be quiet) Listen!
  • 4. Change Things For The Sake Of Changing Things: Change is good and sometimes necessary to create forward momentum. The Leadership Destroyer takes this to another level by changing things just to let you know that they’re the boss. They are unwilling to receive feedback or go back to what worked, even if their change isn’t working. I heard a great thought from OSU Football Coach Mike Gundy from his press conference during OSU’s great season several years back.  This articular season OSU was ranked #2 and they were rolling like a well-oiled machine. Mike Gundy said, (paraphrasing) “I try to change things up a bit, just to justify my existence. My team will come to me and say I think we need to stick to XYZ and this is why. Often times what they are saying makes perfect sense and I change it back.” It’s important to survey the impact, timing and necessity of change.
  • 5. They Just Don’t Care:  The quickest way to destroy a team is to not care about the players on the team. Team members know the difference between the fake stuff and the genuine care and concern for the individual players and the collective team. Leadership Destroyers care more about their title, role, corner office and the fact that they have arrived than they do their team. One of the things that the inmates used to say when I was a Warden in regards to leadership and life is this, “It’s All About Missouri!” In other words, Missouri is the Show-Me State.  I’ll close with the words of John Maxwell, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
  • 6. Focused On Pleasing The Boss – It’s okay to want to perform for your supervisor and help you organization be successful. Leadership Destroyers take it to a whole-nutha-level. The Leadership Destroyer will do anything and everything to look good, rather than doing any and everything right. The all-consuming thoughts of wondering what the boss thinks will lead these destroyers to destroy their team, chunk team members under the bus and not give proper credit where proper credit is due.
  • 7. Unwilling To Receive Candid Feedback – When an individual is unwilling to listen to feedback because “It may hurt” or “It isn’t what they want to hear,” they are in trouble. You can’t win with thin skin. Once team members realize the Leadership Destroyer is unwilling to receive feedback, they will stop giving feedback. Once team members stop giving feedback, the Leadership Destroyers find themselves on an island. Islands are great places to vacation, but horrible places to find yourself when you are trying to lead a team.
Leadership Destroyers destroy everything.
What Do You Think?  Share your thoughts and experiences with any of thes

Why Organizations and Individuals Settle For Mediocrity

mediocreIt seems like I’m in constant conversations with organizational leaders, groups and individuals about settling. By settling, I mean they see a better way, a better plan, a better relationship and a better situation; however they choose to settle for their existing state of mediocrity. If better is within your reach and you choose to settle for less, you are settling for mediocrity.

We all have found ourselves in that awkwardly comfortable position of settling at one time or another on this journey we call life. Mediocrity is self inflicted and so is excellence. If individuals and organizations are left with the ability to chose mediocrity or excellence, good or great; why do more often times than not people chose the former before the later.

Why do people settle for mediocrity? Plain and simple, it’s safe, it’s comfortable, it’s easy and it just feels good. The more you settle for mediocrity, the more mediocrity begins to look like genius and excellence.

Change the way you think, change the way you feel, raise the bar and don’t settle for mediocrity.

The Leaders Who Need The Most Development

lead developThe Leaders Who Need The Most Development Are Often Times The Leaders That Say That Others Need More Development.

Have you ever seen a situation where a leader has a team member who is either up for a promotion or in all actuality should be considered for a promotion; and the leaders says they are not ready yet, or they need more development.

I understand that sometimes people aren’t ready and they could benefit by a little more time in the leadership development cooker. More times than not, the person is ready, all they need is a little encouragement, belief in themselves and an opportunity to show what’s inside of them. How do you get the experience, if no one is willing to give you a chance to get the experience?

Over the years I have come to realize that the leaders who are quick to say that someone isn’t ready and need more development are the ones that need more development themselves.

It takes, time, energy and true leadership to develop someone — moving them from where they are to where they can be. Leaders must learn to focus on potential instead of limitations.

The next time you hear a leader say “so and so” isn’t ready, the deeper question to ask is this “is the leader making the statement ready?”

No one will ever be 100% “ready,” it’s up to the leaders to be a part of getting them there. That’s why it’s called leadership.

10 Great Leadership Lessons From Tim Duncan’s Career

tim2Well the NBA Finals wrapped up with the team with the best record in the NBA hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Yes, the San Antonio Spurs are the 2014 NBA champions after missing the opportunity to win their 5th title last year, they seized the moment this year. Even though the #Spurs had the best record and best coach in the NBA, this championship is unlikely because everyone including them Heat had pretty much crowned themselves as the 2014 NBA Champions, a 3-Peat and LeBron on NBA’s Mt. Rushmore before the season even started. Not so fast my friend, the Spurs are the new Sheriff in town. Well they are the old Sheriff thats back in town.

The Spurs were led by a cast of awesome players that know how to play team basketball. They are truly a team where night in and night out a different team member shows up. As a matter of fact most people had never heard of the man of the Spurs players including finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, especially before the last couple of games. To this day only a few people can even spell his name correctly. Uhh Kuh-why?

Not only did the Spurs have a great team but they were smarter, more disciplined and better coached than any other team in the NBA. The Spurs were lead by the veteran of all veterans, Tim Duncan. Duncan will go down as one of the greatest NBA Superstars ever. Duncan now has the most playoff games and double-doubles of any player in NBA history. Duncan is a SuperStar who shined bright like a diamond while staying outside of the spotlight. Speaking of diamonds and spotlights King James tried to shine but his teammates didn’t help him sparkle. As a result, can we please not talk about the #Heat #LeBron #Bulls and #Jordan in the same sentence for a long time. Like ever!

We can talk about Tim Duncan, not only can we talk about him, there is a lot to learn about life and leadership from him and his career.

10 Great Leadership Lessons From Tim Duncan’s Career.

  • 1. Substance Over Style – “The Big Fundamental” Looking good is great, performing great is better. Duncan doesn’t win the style contest, but he is a straight up winner.
  • 2. Greatness Is Appreciated More When It’s Gone – Tim Duncan’s Game, Career and Place in history won’t be appreciated until he’s retired and gone.
  • 3. Great Leaders Know When To Defer – Duncan has admittedly turned the team over to Tony Parker, which has extended his career and allowed him to continue his greatness. It looks like he may be turning it over to Mr. About His Business Kawhi Leonard real soon.
  • 4. You Can’t Care What People Think – Duncan doesn’t get the commercials, the shoes, the endorsements… He just gets the trophies. Duncan could care less what people think about his personality or lack there of, all he does is win.
  • 5. Classy over Sassy – Tim Duncan is one of the classiest players in the NBA. It’s hard not to like classy… when in doubt, keep it classy.
  • 6. Quietly Be The Best At What You Do – Tim Duncan will quietly go down as one of the best power forwards to ever play the game. Period, the end.
  • 7. Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last – Nice guys finish wherever they want to finish, Duncan is nice and he doesn’t finish last. 🙂
  • 8. Get Better With Age – Just like a fine wine, they say some things get better with age, great leaders get better, lead better, play better and make better decisions with age. Duncan seems to get better the older that he gets.
  • 9. Know How To Lead Up – Duncan plays for a tough coach and he’s one of the few players that knows how to lead up, talk to Popovich, how to handle him in the media and how to lead up. There is an art to leading up and Duncan figured it out.
  • 10. Make Those Around You Better – Duncan makes his teammates, his coach, his city, his community and the NBA better.

 

Seth Godin On How To Win In 2014

Short video that’s worth your time.

Great Business Tool To Create Online Surveys and More

surveysI thought I’d share a key tool for my business and personal brand. There is no way around it, every business needs some type of online survey tool. There are some good online survey tools out there including: Survey Monkey, Zoomerang, PollDaddy and my personal favorite Fluid Surveys. What I like about Fluid Surveys is it’s simple, intuitive, mobile friendly and easy to build custom surveys.

Seriously it’s easiest way to build, distribute & analyze online surveys, forms, questionnaires & polls. There’s nothing to download, no coding or programming knowledge required… just open your browser and go. It has been the perfect solution for our customer satisfaction surveys, end of the year blog reader surveys, market research and various types of questionnaires. You can use it for anything. The analysis, charting and break down of results is awesome and looks great, you can easily display the results in your keynote or powerpoint presentations.

If you have not checked them out and are in need of a solution, I encourage you to do so. They even have a free options available. Click here for more details.

What To Do When Your Organization Isn’t Getting The Desired Results

org challengeOften times when an organization faces challenges, shortfalls and doesn’t live up to expectations… fingers start pointing everywhere. The finger pointing is a natural sign and symbol of trying to place the blame and figure things out. The finger pointing is often followed by pink slips, excuses and questions.

There is a timeless organizational principle that I like to live by and help the organizations that I coach to always take a hard look at. The principle is simply this:

“If your organization isn’t getting the desired results, look no farther than the leader.” 

You can’t point as many fingers as you want, make more excuses than failure itself; however solutions can truly only be found by looking at the leader. Yes the team has to perform, but the leader is ultimately responsible for the strategy, hiring, firing and coaching of those team members.

If your organization is having challenges, look no farther than the leader for solutions.

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